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Why won’t this football player succeed? Case study with discussion

Eliezer Barker
Why won’t this football player succeed? Case study with discussion

Guest article

Athlete’s diet. Recently there has been a lot of talk about this topic, but in fact few people know how taking care of proper nutrition can translate into success of a male or female athlete in a given sport. It turns out that a few percent can make a difference.

Let’s imagine a football player who follows his training assumptions 100%, always follows his coach’s advice and is talented, but thinks that diet and supplementation in his case is pointless. He eats irregularly, grabs only what he has on hand and doesn’t care about the quality of the food he eats.

How can this translate into his career?

Let’s start with the fact that he improperly selects the number of calories in his diet. On training days he eats too little, on days off he eats a little too much

According to research, with an inadequate level of energy available on training days he exposes himself to many problems. These include an increased risk of injury, problems with iron metabolism and therefore the aerobic system, poor bone mineralisation and, of course, a lack of energy to use 100% of one’s potential during training [1]

Additionally, due to a worsening energy deficit and insufficient dietary protein supply, one is at risk of losing too much muscle mass and thus reducing agility, speed and strength [2].

Another mistake

Let’s also assume that this athlete doesn’t care about the hydration aspect, he just drinks according to his desire. It is scientifically proven that an athlete should not be guided only by the feeling of thirst, because it is a suboptimal indicator. When training in humid conditions with high air temperatures, the athlete loses a significant amount of water with sweat, and dehydration as low as 2% can impair his exercise capacity [3]

In addition, the player drinks only pure water, without providing electrolytes, and this affects the water-electrolyte balance and increases the risk of muscle cramps so popular in soccer, and thus deterioration of exercise capacity.

You can learn more about nutrition and supplementation in team sports in my original course, which launches on September 15

Let’s go further…

To make matters worse, this athlete does not pay attention to the quantity, quality and frequency of carbohydrates, his diet is mainly based on fats and of poor quality. Due to this fact, his ability to make good decisions on the pitch decreases, he makes fewer sprints on the pitch, runs fewer kilometers and is less effective in one-on-one duels. [4]

All of the above with this purely theoretical example is completely true, and the above claims are supported by numerous scientific studies. Add to this an inadequate amount of nutrients in the diet, and this reduces the ability of training adaptations and increases the risk of infection and disease, and thus absenteeism from matches and training, as well as impaired recovery of muscles and tendons.

Add the lack of supplementation support, which is standard at the highest levels of the game, and we have a set. A player by neglecting the dietary aspects may not lose his career, but he will not be where he could be.

Diet will not make a poor player, a great football player

But it can help a good player to fully develop his potential, give an extra few percent to the success, and after all, these few percent in sport makes a colossal difference.

You can learn more about nutrition in team sports in my original course, which launches on September 15.


[1] Burke, L. V. Deakin (2015). “Clinical Sports Nutrition” Chapter 6 Burke, L. M. (2003). The IOC consensus on sports nutrition 2003: New guidelines for nutrition for athletes. Int Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 13(4): 549-552.

[2] Stokes, T., A. J. Hector, R. W. Morton, C. McGlory S. M. Phillips. Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training. Nutrients. 2018, 10(2).

[3] Aragon-Vargas, L. F., Moncada-Jiménez, J., Hernandez-Elizondo, J., Barrenechea C, A., Monge-Alvarado, A. Evaluation of pre -game hydration status, heat stress, and fluid balance during professional soccer competition in the heat. European Journal ofSport Science. 2009, 9(5), 269 – 276

[4] Collins J, Maughan R, Gleeson M, et al. UEFA expert group 2020 statement on nutrition in elite football. current evidence to inform practical recommendations and drive future research. Br J Sports Med

Main photo: Alexander Nadrilyanski/

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